Starbucks Macha Latte - close but not quite.
While living in Tokyo I discovered the Green Tea Latte.
The name itself is somewhat deceiving because its made with macha, which is the kind of tea used in tea ceremony and its a far cry - in both taste and texture - from what we would typically consider brewed "green tea". The taste is sort of a love it or hate it kind of taste, a tad bitter and somewhat grainy when made the traditional way.
I love the taste of macha and would stop by my local Japanese Starbucks for the Macha Frappuchino at least once every few weeks. My only complaint is that they dont serve venti sized drinks in Japan. Upon returning to the states I was bummed to give up my favorite coffee alternative drink but it seemed a fair trade for being able to buy tampons again.
Imagine my surprise when I saw the Green Tea Frappe while visiting my cousin/Starbucks barista in Minnesota. I eagerly ordered one and was totally repulsed by the strange flavor. My cousin told me that they add a pump of melon syrup (I would assume to offset the bitterness) - HOW REVOLTING! Next time, while in Seattle, I ordered it without the syrup but it still didnt taste the same.
While window shopping through the Queens Market in Waikoloa the other day I popped into Starbucks and gave the Green Tea another try. The barista seemed really confused when I asked if they put syrup in it, so that was a good sign. This is by far the closest US Starbucks has come to recreating the delightful yumminess of the Japanese Macha Latte. Its not spot-on, but it wasnt overly sweet or overly milky (which are usually the two biggest problems when translating something that appeals to the Japanese palate).
I would assume this is because I live in Hawaii and its a) closer to Japan and b) hosts many Japanese nationals. Now if McDonalds can get their teriyaki burgers up to par I may not have to budget all that money for my "Return to Tokyo" trip.